The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Needless

Title: Needless
Genre: Action
Company: Madhouse Studios
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: 2 Jul 2009 – 10 Dec 2009

Synopsis: In post-apocalyptic Japan live individuals who posses unique superpowers known as “fragments”. These individuals, known as the “Needless”, are persecuted by an evil organization called Simeon. Our heroes set out on a journey to defeat Simeon once and for all, but not without various hijinx along the way.

The Highlights
In ten words or less: Action fanservice show that doesn’t take itself (or anything) seriously.
Story: Plain and forgettable, largely overshadowed by various subplots.
Action sequences: Awesome and cheesy.

Needless is very much a chimera of anime genres. On one hand, it’s an irresponsible romp of shounen action clichés. On the other hand, it’s an ecchi fanservice extravaganza. As a series, it’s silly and pointless drivel – you won’t find this anime to be very “deep” – but beneath all the elitist-sounding things you can say about Needless, it’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had watching anime.

That’s because Needless is honest and brazen about its silliness. It doesn’t pretend to be a serious show; it fully embraces its personality. The antagonists for a large portion of the anime are a squad of three cute girls whom I had great trouble rooting against in the first place. Characters yell out their attacks, Dragonball-style, and the name of the attack is then splattered all over the screen. The catchphrases occur about as often as pantyshots. Our main hero, Adam Blade, is macho and brash. His dialogue is little more than taunting, and he stops at nothing to lust at little girls. Fight scenes often humorously pause for some gag or pointless observation. Needless is unapologetically unpolished and over-the-top ridiculous, but it manages to function as an entertaining product.

There are quite a few characters in Needless, but the character design is one of the major flaws of the show. While the girls are designed with laboratory precision to maximize fanservice potential, the males appear uncouth and rehashed. Adam’s character design seems to be reused twice, and most of the males have that impossibly large and cartoonishly muscular build. It doesn’t help that many of them have necks wider than their heads. Besides the design, the majority of the cast are interesting enough. Each character has a unique ability which they use in combat, from fire to speed to transformations. Adam has the wildcard ability to learn other characters’ powers, which sets off a plethora of plot devices and gimmicky fight scenes. Our aforementioned antagonists, the “Pretty Girl Squad” are the breakout characters of the show. While these Simeon lackeys are presented as the “bad guys”, they don’t really seem evil. They are likable because they actually have personalities and chemistry. Their conflicts with our heroes go back and forth, and their exchanges are quite entertaining.

The plot of Needless takes a few episodes to settle in, but then it takes a backseat to the more immediate, action-focused subplots. As the anime progresses, the plot becomes increasingly irrelevant as it becomes eclipsed by ever-crazier fight scenes. The neglect the plot faces makes the ending seem very sudden and nonsensical.

The fight scenes are quite entertaining, featuring neat superpowers and the occasional amusing bit of trash talk. The show is also surprisingly funny depending on individual tastes in humor. An episode that had me laughing pretty hard was when the Pretty Girl Squad chased Eve into a heavily booby-trapped abandoned mansion. We get to see the Pretty Girl Squad in action, and while they get involved in various gags and jokes, they never seem incompetent. Pursuant to the show’s fanservice mantra, all the girls are launched naked out of a giant cannon at the end of the episode.

Needless is easy to enjoy for a very specific kind of anime fan. It’s so shameless about being a shounen fanservice show that it almost seems like a parody. There’s never a façade of seriousness or drama; the show is very straightforward about its virile personality and ostentation. In case you ever start taking the show seriously, the ending theme is always there to jar you back into reality. For that very reason, Needless is simple fun, and it works.

The Rating: 7
7/10

Reviewed by: kevo

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